291Y: Father benignly deceives son

I’m looking for a chapter book in which a father amazes his son by seeming to do a magic trick on a city block, involving a building which is either being built or torn down. The father doesn’t really do anything magical–he just has information that the son doesn’t, so he can frame it as something enchanted. The son totally believes the illusion and is in awe of his father. This episode, which extends over several weeks, is a plot point in a book that I don’t think was aimed at kids or YA but involved children. It was written, perhaps, in the 60s or 70s? I thought it was by William Goldman, but I haven’t been able to find it.

291X: A voyage aboard a research vessel

The book I am looking for is about the oceans. I read in in the late 1970s. It was written by a man who was participating in an ocean voyage aboard a research vessel. I think he may have been a Canadian, and the book may have been published via McGill University. He described the oceans as having four levels, each level’s current went counter to the level above or below it.

Thanks and good luck. I would love to read this book again.

291W: Girl wants tassels for her sled

This book must date back to the 1940s. I remember finding it at our summer home in NH, where there were all kinds of odd books for young people about.

It is a picture book. The illustrations are similar to pen-and-ink drawings that have been colored in, quite bright, beautiful sense of line.

The story is about a girl (and her brother) in a northern country (Scandinavia?). In the winter (Christmas?) they decorate sleds with strings of colored tassels for some procession. The girl cleans house for an old woman who makes her the tassel string. The girl gets caught in a terrible snowstorm on the way home and takes shelter in the root-hole of a much loved ancient oak tree. (The oak tree is a character in the story too.) This is where she is found.

I have never encountered this book anywhere else. It doesn’t ring a bell with anyone I have ever talked to.

Thanks for your suggestions!

291V: Fox Trapped in a Smokehouse

This is a book of interconnected short stories. It was an oversized hardcover book with full-page text and color illustrations, meant for an older reader. The stories all concern a community of animals who live in the woods adjacent to a farm. I’m fairly sure the title of the collection has the name of the animals’ home in it — maybe the lake they all live around, or the name of the woods, or the name of the farm? The book was published in the 80s or 90s. Each short story ends with a well-known moral or saying. I think there is a story about a badger or raccoon who is sick of it all at home and doesn’t want to get out of bed. There might be a story about an animal collecting (quail?) eggs that then get destroyed or eaten — the moral is don’t count your chickens before they hatch (or don’t put all your eggs in one basket?). The story I remember most is about a fox (perhaps the main character in the book) who gets trapped in the farmer’s smokehouse. He sneaks in to steal some of the farmer’s ham (I think?) and gets his leg stuck in a claw trap or gets locked in, and he has to beg another of the animals to help him escape before the farmer finds out and shoots him with his shotgun. In one of the later stories, I think the fox runs away from the animal community. I loved this book as a kid but can’t seem to work my Google magic to identify it! Thanks in advance to all you sleuths out there!

291U: It definitely wasn’t Harriet the Spy

I’m looking for a book I read as a child in the 1960s. My clues are very vague (sorry!), but here goes:

The book was a middle-grade novel about two girls who play at being detectives. They follow people around and write in their notebooks. I thought the title was The Key House Mystery or The Key-House Mystery (with a hyphen), but I haven’t found it on sites I’ve tried.

Unfortunately, that’s all I remember.  I don’t know the color of the cover, whether there were illustrations, or when it was published.

The book definitely wasn’t Harriet the Spy.